Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #519 
August 26, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


Next Monday is a legal holiday in the United States known as Labor Day. It signals the traditional end of the American summer entertainment season. I began my professional career with Circus Kirk, an all youth circus owned and produced by "Doc" Charles Boas. That show toured from Memorial Day until Labor Day. During the eleven years that I performed at the RagingWatersAmusement Park in Southern California, I worked six days a week from Memorial Day until Labor Day. (I worked weekends before and after those dates.)


In addition, Labor Day marks the beginning of the traditional school year. (Many parts of the United States no longer follow that tradition. I am not sure why but some areas with hot summers begin school as early as the first week of August.) When I toured with Circus Kirk I was attending CaliforniaStateUniversity - Long Beach. The college decided to begin the week before Labor Day the second year I was with the show. So my father, who taught in a high school and was off that week, attended classes for me and collected my assignments. My teachers understood the situation because I was a theater major and many of the other students were working summer entertainment jobs with contracts running through Labor Day. That is just one example of how my father has always been very supportive of my career.


Other things also begin in conjunction with the beginning of the school year. For example, my Cub Scout Pack resumes Pack Meetings and other programs with the beginning of the school year.


So in the United States this is a time of transition for many people. It is a good time to take a look at what you are doing and changes you may want to make.


I would like to thank everyone who commented on the Coulrophobia information in the last issue of my newsletter and on my web site.  I appreciate your feedback.


I'll see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
History Trivia
Flowerpot for a Napkin Rose
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

August 26, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"Disney Language - Plus, Plus It, Plusing:   That is where Disney refurbishes, upgrades, adds to an attraction or in some way changes an attraction to make it more enjoyable for guests." -- Seen, Un-seen Disneyland by Russell D. Flores


During each performance of Circus Kirk in 1977, the Ringmaster would announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen, as special guest stars today Circus Kirk is proud to introduce the (name of the local high school) Marching Band." There would be a murmur of anticipation from the audience. The Back Door Curtain would open and in would march four clowns loudly playing instruments. "Hold it. Hold it. You're not the (name of the local high school) Marching Band."


Dennis Martino, one of the clowns, would reply, "Oh, they couldn't make it, so we came instead." That always got a laugh.


I was the Circus Kirk Producing Clown in 1977 and wrote the Clown Band act. However, the introduction was a Plus added by "Doc" Charles Boas, the show's owner. He knew that a local reference would please the audience because it would show extra effort on their behalf. Also, Doc knew that the anticipation of seeing a real band would increase the surprise of the appearance by the clowns adding to the act's humor. So every morning when I arrived in town my duties included finding somebody who would tell me the name of the local high school band.


Here is an example of how I Plus a magic effect. In Creativity for Entertainers Volume Three: Creative Routines, I describe how to perform an effect where the front of a folder is shown. The folder is opened to show the inside. Then it is closed to show the back. The folder is opened one more time to show the inside and then it is folded inside out. Finally a large number of silk scarves are produced from within the folder. It can be performed with a plain folder, but I customize it to the audience I am entertaining. If I am doing a show at a clown convention or workshop, I print the logo of the event on the front of the folder with a title identifying it as a make up guide. The first inside page has a picture of a Whiteface clown. The second inside page has a picture of an Auguste clown. The back of the folder has a picture of a Tramp clown. At the recent California Clown Campin', I used drawings of Guy Vander Wyst, an Auguste clown and co-director of the program, and Harlen Pierson, another instructor and a Whiteface clown, inside the folder. I used a drawing of my character on the back as the tramp clown. When I opened the folder so the audience could see the inside, I pointed to Harlen's portrait. Audience members helped me locate him. I pointed to Guy's portrait and audience members helped me locate him. I closed the folder and pointed to my portrait on the back. I acted like I was looking for the clown in the picture. Audience members told me that it was a picture of me. I opened the folder so I could look at the back, and nodded when I recognized myself. Then I closed the folder backwards and made the production. This Plus give me an excuse to interact with the audience and it provided motivation for the actions I needed to carry out in order to make the effect work. I add one more Plus to the standard presentation. Since I use my computer to print out the pages of the folder, which is gimmicked to make the effect work, I print out pages for a second folder that is not gimmicked. After the production, I set the gimmicked folder aside for a moment. Then I pick up the duplicate folder and present it to an audience member as a souvenir of the performance. It serves as a nice give away, but also removes suspicion that the folder might have been gimmicked.


There is a dealer effect known as Color Changing Wreathes. In this effect you start with three white wreathes. You place one of them into a large bag that has a hole in the side. You push a scarf through the hole. Then you pull out the wreath and it has changed color to match the color of the scarf. You repeat this with each of the other wreathes using different color scarves. You end up with three different colored wreathes. Ted "Suds" Sudbrack saw me juggling the three wreathes. He convinced me to get it because he thought that was a good Plus to the normal presentation of the effect. At the end of the effect, the three wreathes become one large tri-color wreath. I figured out how to make that happen while I am apparently trying to juggle them, another Plus. I have decided on one more Plus. I am working on a method to make the colored scarves turn white at the same time the white wreath becomes colored. I almost have that version worked out.


When you perform an act, how can you include a local reference? What effects can you easily customize to fit a particular audience? When you purchase a dealer item, what can you add to it to increase audience appeal? What can you use as a giveaway that becomes a souvenir of your performance? In what other ways can you Plus a routine or magic effect?




History Trivia

Click on the link that you think is the best answer.  


 Joseph Grimaldi is considered the Father of Modern Clowning. Some people erroneously credit him with being the first Whiteface clown. He was not the first to wear Whiteface make up. However, he did introduce a new style of make up design and wardrobe. He is important because he elevated the Whiteface clown from a supporting to starring role in nineteenth century British theater. His father, Giuseppi Grimaldi, was a dancing master and pantomimist. He appeared sometimes as a clown in British pantomimes. Joseph began his performing career at the age of four by appearing on stage with his father. His first role was


A Miniature Version of His Father



Flowerpot for a Napkin Rose


I met a young couple while doing strolling entertainment at a recent event. I started to make a napkin rose intending to give it to the young man so he could give it to the woman he was with. He immediately said, "Oh, you are making a rose. I learned how to do that on YouTube. You've got to love YouTube." She glared at him.


So when I finished the rose I pulled out a square of paper and folded a flower pot to hold the flower. When I presented them to her, she looked at him and said, "I bet you didn't learn to do that on YouTube."


Folding the traditional origami drinking cup and using it as a flower pot for a napkin rose is another way to Plus to something many entertainers perform. You will find directions on how to do it on my web site.


 Napkin Rose and Flower Pot Directions

Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.

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I hope to see you down the road.


Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2013 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.
All rights reserved. 
Educational Opportunities

I believe in promoting any event I will be lecturing at.  If you schedule me for an educational event that you are hosting, I will list it here.  My goal is to do what I can to best meet the needs of you and your group.

 California Clown Campin'


Ontario, CA

Dates and subjects

to be announced


California Clown Campin'

For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event 

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